The Evansville Courier & Press had an article written by Hanns Pieper is professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of Evansville regarding staffing.  He refers to which contains nationwide nursing home comparison data.

"Staffing time measures are especially important because it’s the staff that actually delivers the care. The data are based on the nursing home’s staffing hours during the two weeks before the inspection and represent the average amount of time available per resident. All other things being equal, the more time per resident the better."

CNA data is the most important since they provide 90-95% of the direct care to residents.  CNAs have the most frequent contact with the residents, so the time they have available is key.  The time available measure is an indicator of staffing adequacy and there often is a significant difference among the different star ratings.

He looked at a list of Indiana nursing homes, and randomly selected a nursing home with a 4-star rating and one with a 1-star rating for staffing.  The 4-star nursing home provided almost an extra hour per day per resident.

There are other important indicators of staffing adequacy that are not presented in the charts such as staff turnover, and call bell response time.   Data that shows how many CNAs who were working on Jan. 1 and still were employed on Dec. 31 should be available.   A CNA’s leaving often has a significant emotional impact on residents. The quality of care is affected. A high turnover rate also may be an indicator of other inadequate conditions in the nursing home.

The time it takes for a staff member to respond to call lights/bells requesting assitance made by a resident is also not presented in the data.  When facilities don’t have an intercom to determine if the situation is an emergency or routine event, a long response time can lead to devastating results. Inrercom systems and electronic recording of alarms and call bells should be standard in most nursing homes.

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